Drinks industry strategy relies on recruiting young drinkers to their brand
The aim of sponsorship is to ‘piggyback’ on sport’s positive images
The statistics on alcohol abuse in Ireland are frightening. As Dr Bobby Smyth, a child and adolescent psychiatrist, has pointed out, “alcohol kills 1,200 people per year. There are 2,000 Irish people in hospital beds today due to alcohol use.”
He continues: “ 10% of Irish children say their lives have been adversely affected by their parents’ drinking. More starkly, it is estimated that parental drinking accounts for one sixth of all cases of child abuse and neglect.’
Deputy Roisin Shortall has been to the forefront of attempts to improve our society’s dysfunctional relationship with alcohol. In a recent submission to an Oireachtas Committee, she expressed scepticism about the amounts of money that will supposedly be lost to sport if sponsorship by alcohol companies were to end, pointing to several successful transitions by sporting bodies to other sponsors.
She is supportive of the important role of sport and has no desire to undermine it. She proposed an alternative source of funding by revealing a little known VAT loophole.
At the moment, if a supermarket sells alcohol at below cost in order to attract customers to its store, it can apply for a refund of VAT from the Revenue Commissioners. They are entitled to this refund because they have made a “loss”, even though this “loss” is planned. In effect, the State subsidises the below-cost selling of alcohol .
If there were a complete ban on below cost selling of alcohol, some industry sources say it could generate as much as €20 million in increased VAT, which could be diverted towards sport. There are solutions which would allow us to transition smoothly from dependence on alcohol sponsorship, and we cannot allow the alcohol industry to prevent us finding them.
PS. David Robert Grimes, in an article on Wednesday, accused me of misusing research by Dr David Fergusson into the effects of abortion on women’s mental health. Did he miss the clarification on Morning Ireland on May 9th by Cathal Mac Coille stating that Dr Fergusson expressed no unhappiness whatsoever with how the Iona Institute has presented his research?
As for his allegation that David Quinn effectively misused research about the effects of different family forms on children, may I suggest he reads David’s article in the current issue of The Village? That will set him straight.